All posts by Rob Baxter

SolShare Working with Local Community Groups

Solshare is happy to work with local BC Community Groups that want to set up a cooperatively owned solar project.

Why work with SolShare?

Given the economics of grid-tie solar energy in BC it is important to keep costs low in order to give your investors a good return on investment. There can be considerable costs associated with incorporation and meeting the requirements of the BC Securities Commission. By working with SolShare those costs are shared.

Here is what you need to set up a co-cooperatively owned community project with SolShare:

1. Investors

A group of investors, willing to invest at least $1,000 to own part of the larger solar array. Usually we will need at least 70 investors at $1,000 each. Of course if some investors are willing to contribute more than you will need fewer investors.

  • Investors should expect to receive dividends at 4% annualized
  • We take care of all the paperwork required by the BC Securities Commission. We use an “offering memorandum” to inform investors about the project and meet the requirements of the Securities Commission.
2. The Site

A building where the owner or tenant is willing to pay for the electricity generated by the solar. The building needs at least 4,000 square feet of roof space.

  • In most cases the building owner will be paying $0.14 / kWh for the power generated
  • We may be able to reduce the cost per kWh if we are able to also do energy efficiency upgrades and we are able to include those in the power purchase agreement (PPA)
  • For most building owners $0.14/kWh is a premium over their BC Hydro rates.
  • If the building is seeking LEED certification or buying Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) the PPA might save them money even at the premium.
  • The premium declines over time so eventually the building owner may be paying less for the solar energy than the utility
  • Multi-family residential buildings are especially good candidates if they are paying residential rates for their common areas. In just a few years they will be saving money under the power purchase agreement.
  • We can evaluate the site to see if it is suitable.

How can you save by cooperating with SolShare?

  • Incorporation costs – we have already incorporated
  • BC Securities Commission compliance – unless you are raising a small amount with a small group of people you will need to file a Prospectus (which can cost $80,000 or more) or use another exemption.  We are using the Offering Memorandum exemption which requires paperwork to be filled and records kept.  We have templates and a database system already set-up to handle the paper work and filing.
  • Audit Costs – If you are using the Offering Memorandum exemption you will need to get an annual financial audit done at least once.  This can cost $8,000 or more.  By sharing the Audit costs amongst more than one project we reduce the costs and allow more profit to be returned to investors.
  • Administration Costs – We take care of the accounting and record keeping.  We also have automatic electronic funds transfers set up to handle the payment to investors.

Quarterly Update from Solshare

Quarterly Update (May – July 2016)
Plant 1 Production   10,608 kWh
Total from all plants   10,608 kWh
Revenue   $1,403  
       
YTD Production   14,630 kWh
YTD Revenue   $1,965  
       
YTD Return on capital   2.59%  
Annualized Return on Capital   5.17%  

Sharing Solar is Fun – A Children’s Story

Cooperatively-owned renewable energy is a fairly simple model. But we find some people still don’t understand it. Since I am spending a lot of time reading and telling stories to my three year old I decided to explain how the model works in the form of a children’s story. To simplify things I have changed the amounts by a factor of 1000 but the ratios would still be the same.

Once upon a time Sue, Tim, Jessica, and Pete pooled their money together and bough a solar system for $100. Each of them put in $25.

One day Jill noticed that they had a solar energy system. Jill said, “I have always wanted to put a solar panel on the new house I am building but I can’t afford the $100 upfront cost. Can I use your panel and just pay for the electricity that it generates?”

Sue, Tim, Jessica and Pete thought about it and decided that Jill could do that. They told her that they would charge her $4 per year for the electricity it generated.
Jill said, “Well that is a little bit more than I am paying now for electricity but I will consider it.”

Then Jill found out that the City government was requiring her to meet certain energy efficiency targets with her new home. Her builder told her it was going to cost $200 for these efficiently upgrades. But if she installed the solar energy system from Sue, Tim, Jessica and Peter, she could meet the energy target.

Jill decided that spending a few extra cents each year for the electricity from the solar energy system was worth it.

Jill was happy because she didn’t have to spend the $200 for the other efficiency upgrades.

Sue, Tim, Jessica and Pete were happy because they were getting $1 each per year. And that is more money than they would have received had they put their $25 in the bank.

So they all lived happily ever after.

BC’s First Community Owned Solar Project Raises $69,000

Solshare Energy, BC’s first community owned solar project, has just completed another round of financing and now has a total of $69,000 in share capital from investors.

The funds raised will be used to complete the purchase of a 23 kW photovoltaic plant recently installed in East Vancouver as well as other start-up costs. The photovoltaic system is installed on a multi-family residential complex and is expected to officially begin production later this week. The revenue from selling the electricity from the system will be used to pay dividends to investors. Dividends have already been paid out to investors who bought shares in earlier financing rounds.

Solshare Energy plans to add additional solar plants located throughout BC to its portfolio and will be seeking new investors as these plants come online.To receive updates on investing in Solshare fill out our contact form.

Van CC Cohousing solar
Cohousing Solar

BC’s First Community Solar Energy Project Pays Dividend

Solshare Energy has announced it has paid its first dividend of $0.41 per share. This is an annualized return of 3.3%.

“We are excited to offer BC residents an investment in local renewable energy projects that offers an ongoing income stream.” said Solshare CEO Rob Baxter. “We have seen considerable interest for a truly local ethical investment alternative.”

Solshare Energy is also currently accepting another round of investments that will help finance its first installation.
IMGP0747

About Solshare Energy

Solshare Energy is BC’s first cooperatively owned community solar energy project. Solshare’s plan is to own a portfolio of renewable energy installations throughout BC that will engage BC residents and offer financial, social, and environmental returns. Solshare first installation was a 23kW system installed in east Vancouver. Solshare Energy is a project of Vancouver Renewable Energy Co-operative (VREC).

Work on First Project Begins

We have begun installation of our first project. Crew from Vancouver Renewable Energy (VREC) started installing the roof mounts for the solar modules at a site in Vancouver.

The 23 kW photovoltaic system is being installed on Vancouver Cedar Cottage Co-housing. The complex is currently under construction so the system will not be brought fully online until later in the year when the electrical systems are in place.

Q&A with Solshare Energy Founder Rob Baxter



Rob Baxter, co-Founder of SolShare Energy discusses the most commonly asked questions about renewable energy in BC, how solar power can benefit anyone and why he does what he does.

What Is SolShare and How Does It Work?

SolShare energy is a crowd-based equity funding project that allows investors to buy shares in a company that’s going to own commercial solar energy projects in BC.  From those projects, investors receive dividends based on those shares.

Who Are The Potential Investors?

SolShare is for BC residents who are concerned about climate change who care about green jobs and about the expansion of pipelines and other fossil fuel infrastructure projects.  They’re already looking to invest or even divest.  They’re home owners and most certainly are looking or a long-term growth in fast-growing industries.

The initial round is a minimum of $2,000 for their investment.  After the first round, the amount to invest will be much lower – as little as $50 will get you in the door as a SolShare investor.

Where Will The First Solshare  Project Be Installed In BC?

The first project in Vancouver is a co-housing project.  A group of people came together to build a jointly-owned apartment building as a co-housing and all of the owners agreed to install the solar energy on their building and lease the equipment.  So SolShare receives payments from them and those payments go towards the dividends that investors receive.

Each project will have a launch event where people can come and see the projects and any project so they can see and understand where their money is being invested.  Most projects will be in Vancouver but there will be others in BC as well.

When Is This Happening? 

Construction will be finished by July it will be starting to receive revenues in July.  The first dividend will probably be paid out in October, 2015.

Why Are You Involved In Renewable Energy?  What’s Your ‘Why’?

I’ve been involved in the renewable energy field for 10 years and helping to get renewable energy actually installed in BC.  So this isn’t this isn’t developing some sort of new technology which isn’t needed.  It’s time to scale existing technology on a commercial-level.

SolShare is a way to accelerate that deployment.  It’s a way to get larger systems installed and larger buildings and help the deployment of renewable energy happen faster.  It’s also a way for more people to get involved in renewable energy.  Part of the problem right now is if you want to install a solar energy system you need to own a building like a house or a commercial building.

You also need to have upfront capital around $7,000-8,000 which is out of reach for most people.  With SolShare you don’t have that much capital to own solar energy systems and receive some of the benefits from them.  In many ways, solar is more democratic and accessible than other investment options out there.

What Changes Have You Seen When You Started In Renewable Energy?

The most significant one is that the price of solar has dropped has come down by about 85%.  The interest in solar energy has grown significantly.  Our revenues have grown on average by 20% a year over the past 10 years.  Since the price of solar panels have gone down the rate of installation has grown faster than that because we’re installing more for the same amount of money.

The type of technology has changed as well.  Since the beginning we’ve installed photovoltaic and solar electric energy.  The price of natural gas came down but so did photovoltaics or solar panels which are produced largely in China.

In Your Opinion How Would You Want BC To Accelerate The Process Of Solar Deployment?

The biggest benefit would be for BC to create a feed-in tariff program similar to what we have in Ontario or what they had in Germany or other places in Europe where utilities pay a premium for green energy which incentivizes more people to install it.  BC currently pays

Why Are You So Passionate About Renewable Energy And Transitioning Away From Fossil Fuels?

I’ve been trying to reduce ecological footprint in a lot of areas of my life.  I’ve made changes to my transportation choices by cycling everywhere.  I first became interested in solar when I explored installing panels on my own roof.  I looked around in Vancouver around to see if anyone else was doing it and there really wasn’t much going on with solar energy so I got together with some other people and set up a company, Vancouver Renewable Energy Co-Operative (VREC) that started to deploy grid-tie solar energy systems in Vancouver.

Most importantly, I have a two-year-old daughter and I’d like to leave the world a better place for her than when I came into it.



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